Huge shout out to the Austin Public Library Manchaca Road Branch for inviting me to speak in celebration of Veteran's Day.
Add a shout out to reader Keith Hunter for this Veteran's Day story. He emailed to share new information that surfaced recently about the American POW women featured in my book PURE GRIT.
The Wisconsin State Historical Society has posted scrapbooks online telling the story of Army Nurse Marcia Gates posted to the Philippines before the start of World War II and later captured POW by the Japanese.
The collection of two scrapbooks immediately reveals the desperation and hope of Lieutenant Marcia Gates' mother after the surrender of American forces to the Japanese attack in the Philippines.
Also named Marica Gates, the woman wrote letter after letter in an effort to discover if her daughter was dead or alive.
The War Department notified Mrs. Gates that Marcia was missing in action. She sought further information from the government, plus the Red Cross, the San Francisco Press Association, and television station WRG that had received tape recordings of American nurses who had escaped before the surrender. Nobody had any news of her daughter.
The family had received a letter from Marcia dated the day of Corregidor's surrender. I can't help but wonder if they believed the lies mixed with the cheerful optimism the young nurse sent to comfort her mother.
"Another short note to remind you again that I am safe and well and will be always, I'm sure. Now you must keep yourself the same. Sure am enjoying my work, plus plenty of food and rest.
The weather where we are now is ideal—evenings cool, days windy and dry. Now don't worry because that would be silly. It anything does happen to me it will to everyone here. Just think, I wanted adventure and I got it."
The Japanese attack on the Philippines cut right to the heart of the small town of Janesville, Wisconsin.
As well as Army Nurse Marcia Gates, ninety-nine men from the town were serving there. A week prior to the attack A company of the 192 Tank Battalion had arrived at Ft. Stotsenburg and Clark Field.
They became the first American tank unit to engage enemy armor in tank to tank combat during World War II.
Many were kids, some still in high school. Others had been in the National Guard for years, but most had never expected to see actual combat. Those who survived the fighting, faced the Bataan Death March and the horrors of prison camp until the end of the war. Known as the Janesville 99, only 35 of the men survived to come home.
Twenty of the survivors are pictured at left.
I'm fascinated to discover little-known stories from history. Stories of people and events that provide a new perspective on why and how things happened, new voices that haven't been heard, insight into how the past brought us here today, and how it might guide us to a better future.
I also post here about my books and feature other authors and their books on compelling and important historical topics.
Occasionally, I share what makes me happy, pictures of my garden, recipes I've made, events I've attended, people I've met. I'm always happy to hear from readers, in the blog comments, by email or social media.